House Republicans are refining their investigation of major tech companies, as the lawmakers preparing to take charge aim to unearth hidden censorship operations of Big Tech platforms and social media websites.
Top targets for investigation include: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, TikTok and YouTube, according to a source familiar with the House Judiciary Committee’s strategy.
“The first step for us is getting all of the documents, getting to the bottom of this, exposing what happened,” the source said.
While the judiciary committee digs into the companies’ censorship records, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is poised to press the Biden administration for its records of government officials’ private work encouraging online speech restrictions.
Commerce committee Republicans telegraphed their investigatory aims earlier this year in proposing more than a dozen resolutions of inquiry, which is a tool used by the House to obtain records and information from the executive branch.
Two of the requests focused on digital censorship issues and were rejected by the Democrat-controlled committee in September.
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Rep. Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, requested any records involving President Biden’s team communicating and coordinating with social media platforms about digital censorship.
Rep. Buddy Carter, Georgia Republican, requested any records between Mr. Biden’s team and the Federal Communications Commission involving Big Tech regulation and attempts to regulate broadcasters over misinformation concerns.
TikTok also is in the crosshairs of energy and commerce committee Republicans, particularly over alleged problems involving privacy and data security.
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and James Comer of Kentucky, the Republican leaders of the energy and commerce and oversight and reform committees, respectively, wrote a letter last week to TikTok’s CEO requesting a range of information, including on the platform’s negotiations with the Biden administration to resolve national security concerns.
Mr. Comer has made the Biden family a top subject of his oversight agenda. He wrote a letter to new Twitter owner Elon Musk in October making several requests for information, including any records between Twitter and the FBI or any other federal law enforcement or intelligence agency regarding the social media platform’s restriction of news about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election.
Mr. Musk has teased releasing information about Twitter’s censorship decisions predating his tenure, but he has hinted that he intends to do it on the platform, rather than handing it over to federal lawmakers.
“The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself,” Mr. Musk tweeted Monday. “The public deserves to know what really happened.”
Mr. Musk looks likely to avoid a grilling from House Republicans, but not from Democrats who have heaped scrutiny on the SpaceX and Tesla CEO since his takeover of Twitter and push to relax online speech restrictions.
Mr. Biden and White House officials have suggested Mr. Musk’s takeover of Twitter is worthy of federal examination, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that Mr. Musk should be off-limits.
“I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters outside the White House. “Elon Musk has succeeded in many places; I’d bet on him more than government going after you.”
While the prominent figures atop the tech companies and federal agencies will draw congressional Republicans’ wrath, GOP investigators figure also appear to be interested in the workers responsible for making censorship decisions affecting conservative voices and policymakers.